Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. offered to buy Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones & Co. Inc. for about $5 billion, but a representative of the publisher’s controlling shareholders said they would vote against the bid. Murdoch, whose $60-a-share bid represents a 65 percent premium to Monday’s closing price, would gain the powerful Wall Street Journal brand ahead of his planned fourth-quarter launch of a business news cable channel.
There’s no doubt that the Dow Jones is one of the most mis-managed brands of all time. Nor, however, is there any doubt that the Wall Street Journal is one of the top five English-language newspapers (apart from its entertaining but ultimately rancid editorial page) in the world.
The latter fact is why the thought of Murdoch running the paper is so disturbing. He has shown little interest serious journalism, but a voracious appetite for power, including the assembling of political clout (usually right-wing, unless that gets in the way of making money) to pursue empire-building. His top news-business people, surely reflecting the boss’ notions, think CNBC — already little more than a corporate cheerleader — isn’t pro-business enough.
Can anyone doubt that Murdoch would interfere with the brilliant journalism that is the WSJ hallmark (again, apart from the editorial page)? The record at other News Corp. properties says it would be inevitable.
I own a small amount of Dow Jones stock. I hope the Bancroft family, which controls enough of the voting shares to prevent a hostile takeover, will stand firm — and that the share price will drop again, at least in the short term, from where it went today after Murdoch’s bid. My faith is in the company’s long-term wish to put out great journalism. In the end, I believe, my investment will do better that way — and that it will have been an investment in a journalistic future where, even as citizen media grows from its still-tenuous roots, quality still matters in the Big Media end of the ecosystem.